Barred Owl

Photo copyright Peter Van Wart

My little friend, Grace, likes to explore the Angle Fly Preserve with her parents. She has found many things on the trails but she has never seen an owl. Are there any, she asked?

I am happy to report that yes, owls live in Angle Fly. They usually remain out of sight during the day, gliding from the trees on silent wings to hunt small mammals and birds after sunset. However, there is one species of owl that sometimes comes out during the day. The dark brown eyes peering intently from behind this tree trunk identify it as a Barred Owl (Strix varia); other owls in our area have yellow eyes. Rosey Van Wart, a Somers Land Trust board member and her husband, Peter, were fortunate to see – and even more fortunate to photograph – this owl at Angle Fly. Peter’s photograph demonstrates that keen observation skills and even better luck are required to see owls. Most, like this one, are cryptically colored, blending in well with twigs, branches, light and shadow of the forest.

Barred owls are one species whose territory is expanding; you may even find one in your back yard. They nest in tree cavities, sometimes using sites made by woodpeckers or squirrels. Barred owls stay around all year long, sharing the long, gray winters with us.

The barred owl has a very distinctive, loud and echoing hoot. If you hear a rhythmic, “Who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all,” you can be sure a barred owl is somewhere near.

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